Magic Mouse issues


Patti writes to share her frustrations with Apple’s new Magic Mouse:

So, I’ve decided I hate my Magic Mouse. It’s very cool in concept, but in actual use, it falls flat on its face. It goes through batteries like crazy (I think you’d mentioned that). But the worst thing is that it seems to take only the lightest touch to send a page reeling off into no-man’s land. I’m constantly pulling my pages back where I want them and it’s driving me nuts. I can’t seem to train myself not to rest my fingertips lightly on the mouse at times and that’s all it seems to take to get the scrolling going. I think I’m going to switch (regretfully) to a standard two-button mouse with scroll wheel. I’ll lose the cool factor, but at least I won’t spend 20 percent of my time putting pages back where they belong!
Have you any further thoughts on the thing now that you’ve been using it a while longer?

In my last entry about this mouse I mentioned that I found scrolling to be crazy sensitive; I’m hoping they tone it down somewhat in a software update or at the very least allow users to control it. It’s as though Apple’s test case was scrolling through documents or photo libraries, but they didn’t check to see if it was too sensitive for other applications.

Battery life has been shorter than expected: I’m already on my third set of batteries, though I’m using ordinary brand-name alkaline batteries. I suspect I’ll have to use rechargeables. There are reports that the Magic Mouse reports its batteries as dead when there’s still a 40 percent charge, and Magic Mice have been implicated in a recently fixed firmware bug that drained the batteries on Apple wireless keyboards. Magic Mouse power management may not be ready for prime time. Again, I’m hoping for a fix.

It’s still better than Apple’s previous mouse, though. Not that that’s saying much.

Previously: More Magic Mouse observations; First impressions: Apple’s Magic Mouse.

Why I spend a lot on computers


Charlie Stross on why he uses Macs. Never mind what he says about appreciating good industrial design, what rings true for me is his argument that if he’s going to spend 60 hours a week looking at a computer, he’d rather be working with a well-designed system.

I have better things to do with my time than nurse a balky, badly designed system that shits itself all over my hard disk on a regular basis, or spends half its time running urgent maintenance tasks that stop me getting stuff done.
I could write while sitting on a cheap IKEA stool in front of a kitchen table, banging away on a netbook loaded with Windows XP. But after a week, my back and my wrists would hurt and I’d be bleeding from the eyeballs every time I looked at the screen. It’d be like spending sixty hours a week driving a cheap Chevrolet Shitweasel instead of a Mercedes: sure, think of the savings — but the pain will get to you in the end. … If you drive to and from your day job for an hour a day, you’d seriously consider buying a more comfortable car. A better, more comfortable computing environment costs peanuts in comparison.

I spend all day in front of my computer, and I use the heck out of it; it’s worth it to me to spend a lot of money on a good computer (and a decent desk and chair, for that matter). As it happens, I consider Macs to be good computers, and I feel happy and productive using them, so I have no qualms spending extra to buy them.

Concomitantly, I spend less than other people do in other areas: I work from home and don’t get out much, so I don’t buy a lot of clothes and don’t have a monthly cellphone plan. If I had a job that required me to be on the road a lot, my clothes-and-mobile-phone budget would be a lot higher, and we’d probably have more than one car. Similarly, if I used my home computer only occasionally, I might care less whether I had a Mac, and I’d probably have a less powerful machine.

More Magic Mouse observations


After a month of using Apple’s new Magic Mouse, a couple more observations:

  1. The mouse’s touch surface can be crazy sensitive in some applications. Page scrolling seems to be fine, but when scrolling is used for zooming in, for example, games and online maps, a light nudge — even an inadvertent graze of the edge of the mouse — can be enough to zoom in or out halfway, as I found in Civilization IV and Google Maps. It’s actually quite hard to keep things under control.
  2. One unforeseen usability problem with the mouse’s symmetrical design: it’s possible to grab the mouse backwards if you’re not looking. Hilarity ensues when you try to use it that way and your mouse movements are flipped 180 degrees, and you wonder what the hell is going on until you see that faint gray Apple logo upside-down …

Previously: First impressions: Apple’s Magic Mouse.

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